Portumna remain Galway’s top team

Portumna 1-18 Gort 2-7

Gort’s Richie Cummins tries to block Portumna’s Eoin Smyth in action from yesterday’s County Senior Hurling Championship Final. Pic: Mike Shaughnessy.

Gort’s Richie Cummins tries to block Portumna’s Eoin Smyth in action from yesterday’s County Senior Hurling Championship Final. Pic: Mike Shaughnessy.

The most invaluable habit to acquire is a winning one. Portumna simply know how to emerge victorious, and yesterday at Pearse Stadium it wasn’t about being slick or stylish, what mattered was substance.

Since their breakthrough year in 2003 Portumna have accumulated trophies with a raw intensity and avid hunger; this hour confirmed that their desire is still genuine.

Gort are rightly renowned as one of those teams that, unless you put them away with ruthless efficiency, they will hang around and make matters tricky. Fortitude isn't an issue afflicting Gort with Linnanes sprinkled around the team, but county final experience can be critical.

This was Portumna’s sixth decider on the spin, games which have brought both pleasure and pain, and the lessons learned in these combats has been practised effectively.

The 2007 tussle with Kinvara carried a deep significance as Portumna really needed a second All-Ireland title to truly confirm their worth, the engagement with Gort was consequential too. Champions rarely accept losing and Portumna have proven to be competent when stirred by the severe challenges of winter and spring.

So a ripple of surprise greeted the first three and a half minutes as Gort settled in for an afternoon of quiet, hard grafting. Needing an early injection of confidence Gort commenced briskly, Paul Killilea landing a tidy point before Ollie Fahy opportunistically bagged a goal.

Martin Nestor’s astute flick was gathered by Fahy on the edge of the square, and the batted finish caught Portumna by surprise.

Still Portumna refused to be perturbed as their centrefielders Eoin Lynch and Leo Smith funnelled ball into an attack that was typically daring. Damien Hayes was scampering around with trademark intent clipping points and causing havoc.

Tadgh Linnane took an early delivery in front of Joe Canning, but it was a rare battle win as Portumna were dictating the war. Canning’s immaculate 11th-minute point from under the stand drew gasps, even eliciting a cheer from the tiny band of the demanding Portumna crew in the audience. That exquisite Canning cameo arrived during a sustained spell of Portumna enterprise which saw them reel off a half dozen unanswered points to edge four ahead.

And that was the advantage Portumna held until the next Gort rally brought a welter of excitement as the interval loomed. A Gerry Quinn free pared the deficit down to three prior to the next instalment of drama.

Ollie Fahy was fouled by Ollie Canning and the crowd watched bewildered, querying how the Galway captain escaped a caution. Despite the mayhem Quinn placed the sliotar, waiting patiently for referee Sean Moran’s counsel when to strike. Quinn unleashed a venomous free and a minute shy of half time the Portumna net danced again. Then Joe Canning nudged a free wide and Gort were armed with the knowledge that Portumna were rattled as the teams trooped to the dressing room deadlocked.

Many opponents are often incapacitated by the dread of embarrassment when faced by Portumna and the third quarter offered proof. Gort weren’t demonstrating the abandon that delighted in the burst of passion before the break, and an eminently preventable goal saw the favourites seize control in the 35th minute.

An innocuous Damien Hayes shot was caught by Peter Cummins, but under pressure from Andy Smith the sliotar eventually was bundled over the line by the Portumna forward. All that needed to be determined thereafter was the margin that would ultimately divide the teams as Portumna stroked over an inevitable late flurry of points.

Portumna: I Canning; M Dolphin, O Canning (0-1 ), M Gill; G Heagney, M Ryan, A O’Donnell; E Lynch, L Smith (0-1 ); N Hayes (0-2 ), K Hayes, A Smith (1-0 ); D Hayes (0-4 ), J Canning (0-10, 6fs, 1 sideline ), C Ryan. Subs: E McEntee for Gill (31 mins ), P Smith for C. Ryan (60 mins ).

Gort: P Cummins; A Coen, T Linnane, A Harte; G Lally, B Regan, S Og Linnane; N Forde, S Forde; G Quinn (1-3, 1-3fs ), P Killilea (0-1 ), M Nestor (0-1 ); R Cummins (0-1 ), O Fahy (1-1 ), N Linnane. Subs: M Cummins for N Forde (25 mins ), M Moran for G Quinn (54 mins ), D Linnane for Quinn (54 mins ).

Referee: S Moran.


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